On April 28th, 2016, a video of Gurmehar Kaur, the daughter of a Kargil martyr, went viral. In this video, she appealed the Governments of India and Pakistan to find ways to make peace. This video has been watched by over 1.5 million people on the Facebook page it was initially posted on and tens of thousands of times on other platforms such as Youtube. In a 4 and a half minute video, she held 36 posters, one after another, with handwritten messages on them where in she narrated her story of how she lost her father at the age of 2, how she used to hate Pakistan, Pakistanis and Muslims, and how she overcame her hate. The 13th poster out of the 36 posters read “Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him”. After Gurmehar Kaur recently spoke out against the attack on students by ABVP at Ramjas College, Delhi, this 13th poster has become a bone of contention for many.
Ever since Gurmehar spoke out against ABVP, she has been trolled incessantly and has been at the end of endless abuse, rape threats and more. She was even accused of misusing her father’s martyrdom for political ends. As if that weren’t enough, a couple of celebs got into the act last evening. It started with Virendra Sehwag posing with the following poster.
The poster read, “I didn’t score two triple centuries, my bad did.” The poster was meant to mock Gurmehar’s 13th poster which read “Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him”. Soon enough, Randeep Hooda joined the action when he tweeted a poster comparing the above two images.
Around the same time, BJP MP Pratap Simha tweeted the following comparison between Gurmehar and Dawood Ibrahim.
These tweets kicked off a new round of vicious trolling and abuse with many Modi supporters whom the PM himself follows on Twitter getting into the act. Unfortunately, Sehwag, Hooda and the trolls completely overlooked the context in which she held up that 13th poster. In fact, the words in that 13th poster weren’t even hers, they were the words of a slain army officer’s wife, they were the words of a mother trying to tell her angry-conflicted daughter that it is the war that killed her husband, and not Pakistan. The little girl had just tried to attack a burqa-clad woman thinking that it was the woman who was responsible for her father’s death and the mother was trying to hold her daughter back and trying to calm her down. Even though the nuance of such a statement could be hard for many to understand, especially for those who form their world-view based on WhatsApp forwards, what the mother was probably trying to express is that it is the war and the politics of wars that consumes people.
In fact, Sehwag, Hooda and the troll gang fixated on exactly 9 words out of Gurmehar Kaur’s 347-word message of peace. I have transcribed the video and the 347 word message is as follows:
“Hi 🙂 My name is Gurmehar Kaur. I am from Jalandhar, India. This is my dad Capt. Mandeep Singh. He was killed in the 1999 Kargil War. I was 2 years old when he died. I have very few memories of him. I have more memories of how it feels NOT to have a father. I also remember how much I used to hate Pakistan & Pakistanis because they killed my Dad. I used to hate Muslims too because I thought all Muslims are Pakistanis. When I was 6 years old, I tried to stab a lady in a burkha. Because for some strange reason, I thought she was responsible for my father’s death. My mother held me back and made me understand that Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him. It took me a while to know but today I do. I have learnt to let go of my hate. It was not easy but its not difficult. If I can do it, so can you. Today, I am a soldier too, just like my dad. I fight for peace between India and Pakistan. Because if there was no war between us, my father would still be here. I am making this video because I want the Governments of both countries to stop pretending and solve the problem. If France & Germany can become friends after 2 World Wars, if Japan & USA can put their past behind and work towards progress, then why can’t we?? Majority of regular Indians and Pakistanis want peace, not war. I am questioning the calibre of leadership of both nations. We cannot dream of becoming a first world country with third world leadership. Please pull your socks up. Talk to each other and get the job done.Enough state sponsored terrorism. Enough state-sponsored spies. Enough state-sponsored hatred. Enough people have died on both sides of the border. Enough is Enough. I wish to live in a world where there are no Gurmehar Kaurs who miss their Dad. I am not alone, there are many like me. #ProfileForPeace”.
The original video can be seen below:
After reading the above text and watching the above video, one can easily see how Sehwag, Hooda and the troll gang robbed all the nuance from this poignant message of peace. Randeep Hooda, in fact, kept going on for quite a while and called her a ‘pawn’ and a ‘prop’ thus trying to portray that Gurmehar doesn’t have an independent faculty of thought.
One may or may not agree with what Gurmehar has to say but it is rather disgusting to cherry-pick a single poster out of the 36 posters and make that the basis of trolling, abuse and character assassination. It is even more disgusting when one realises that those words were a mother’s advice to a daughter who’s lost her father. While the 20 year old Gurmehar handled all this with a lot of poise and elegance, for many others, this episode is deeply unsettling.http://www.altnews.in/gurmehar-kaurs-message-peace-347-words-sehwag-randeep-hooda-modi-bhakts-read-9/